Business & Labor at a glance

First Niles stocks slip; Cortland unchanged

First Niles Financial stocks were at $9.20 a share in trading Friday, reflecting a decrease of 5 cents. Cortland Bancorp remained at $15.75.

US on pace for strong growth

WASHINGTON – The resurgence in U.S. hiring accelerated in November and put 2014 on track to be the healthiest year for job growth since 1999.

The gain of a robust 321,000 jobs – the most in nearly three years – put further distance between a strengthening American economy and struggling nations throughout the developed world. The job market still isn’t yet fully healthy. But its steady improvement raises the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates.

The unemployment rate remained at a six-year low of 5.8 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.

Holiday shoppers getting smarter

NEW YORK – Shoppers are getting smarter.

The start of the holiday shopping season shows a simple discount, even a big one, isn’t always enough to lure people to buy. Shoppers can sniff out a legitimate deal from a fake one and are even leaving items in online shopping carts as reminders to look for a better bargain.

Shoppers with more knowledge and new patience may have contributed to the less-than-stellar turnout over Thanksgiving weekend, the traditional kickoff of holiday shopping.

Stores heavily discounted holiday merchandise days and even weeks before Black Friday. That gave shoppers plenty of opportunities to avoid the big lines.

That seemed to backfire over Thanksgiving weekend. The endless stream of sales pitches made many shoppers confident that heavy discounts would continue right on through Christmas.

Car service really worth $40B?

NEW YORK – Can a company that didn’t exist five years ago, an upstart with a knack for angering regulators with the power to close down its business, really be worth $40 billion?

That is the figure that had investors from Wall Street to Silicon Valley abuzz a day after Uber announced it had received more money from venture capitalists than any private company this year. The investment places a value on the car-service company that is higher than American Airlines or Kraft Foods – a stunning vote of confidence.

Or maybe it’s just too optimistic.

The cash infusion from investors – $1.2 billion for a small stake – comes at a time when values for private companies backed by venture capitalists are rising fast. New investments in Dropbox, a file-sharing service, and Airbnb, a website for people renting out their homes, have sent their valuations soaring.

Jobs’ video transfixes court

OAKLAND, Calif. – More than three years after his death, legendary Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs held a federal courtroom transfixed on Friday as attorneys played a video deposition of his testimony, taken months before his October 2011 death, in a class-action lawsuit that accuses Apple of inflating prices by locking music lovers into using Apple’s iPod players.

Jobs he gave a firm defense of Apple’s software, which blocked music from services that competed with Apple’s iTunes store.

Attorneys for a group of consumers and iPod resellers contend that froze rival device-makers out of the market, allowing Apple to sell iPods at inflated prices.

Staff, wire reports